Home New York Giants News An Open Letter To Coach Coughlin Make Every Day Count

An Open Letter To Coach Coughlin Make Every Day Count

by James Doino

Maj. Paul VoelkeAn open letter to Coach Coughlin and the New York Football Giants:

In 2007 you gave us “Talk is Cheap, Play the Game”.

In 2011 you started with “Respect all, Fear None” and that gave way to “All In”.

Well in 2014, I hear the mantra is “People Change, Expectations Don’t”, and while I do like this one, considering the roster upheaval this off season, I want to make a suggestion for another one, a Mantra 1a if you will.

I urge every one of you to take in the motto of “Make Every Day Count.”

One of the things I like to think separates me from other football writers is that I’m willing to let you in on my inner thoughts and experiences.  I really don’t give a shit about how I’m perceived or what others may think about me at all. I give you the truth about what I’m feeling and what I’m going through at that given time and how it relates to our beloved New York Giants.

It’s not always easy to do.  Life doesn’t always reflect football, and at times during the off season it is tough to come up with ideas.  During the season, our Giants will dictate where the articles go in topic with how they play on the field. Until then we are all left to wonder, along with every fan of every team, what the season has in store.

Who the hell saw an 0-6 start coming last year?  Not me, that’s for damn sure.  As things unfold throughout the season, much like life, things change and become clearer in some instances and cloudier in others.  We started 0-6 and six weeks later had a chance to beat the Cowboys and Redskins in back to back weeks to catapult to the top of a weak NFC East.  Doom and gloom turned into hope and optimism only to lead to the reality that it was not meant to be.

Again, as tortuous as last years Giants were to watch, it still doesn’t amount towards the bigger picture in life. I recently just turned 37 years old on June 23rd and each birthday from the 35th until I close my eyes for good, will be filled with mixed emotions. Two years ago on my 35th birthday I received a phone call from a close friend that changed my outlook on life forever. I answered expecting to be ridiculed for being old and to generally just get my balls busted, but the minute I heard my friends voice crack, I knew something was wrong.

“Who died?” I asked instantly.

“Paul died…” my friend Chris of almost 20 years responded, “He died in Afghanistan, non-combat related from what we know now, car accident, yesterday”

Paul Voelke was one of my best friends in high school; I remember to this day, it was his stepfather Griff twenty years ago who broke the news to us that the Giants cut Phill Simms after the 1993 season.  We were in Paul’s pool that day.  We were just kids being kids, with not one of us knowing what the future had in store.  In 1994 Paul would graduate high school and head onto West Point. He would embark on a career that left all of us behind glowing with pride to able to say that this man is our friend.

Make Every Day Count

Major Paul Voelke served 14 years as an Infantry Officer and over the course of his career he had earned several honors and awards which included the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

As a Captain, he was selected for the Joint Chief of Staff’s Internship where he earned his graduate degree from Georgetown University with a Master’s of Policy Management in 2007. Major Voelke was a veteran of Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo as well as four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and last served as the Executive Officer for 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. I guess you can say Paul’s sheer skills and leadership would be in comparison to a Pro-Bowl player in the NFL and rightfully so.

The following was written about Maj. Paul Voelke in an article in The Photo News on June 29th, 2012, a week after he was taken from us way too soon.

“Paul Voelke had his sights set on West Point for as long as anyone can remember. He always wanted to go there.  And he always wanted to serve his country in the Army afterward. He got what he wanted. The Monroe resident, who graduated from Monroe-Woodbury in 1994, earned his place at the U.S. Military Academy. Then he earned his way to the rank of major in the Army after graduating from West Point in 1998. At Monroe-Woodbury, he was a member of the National Honor Society, was among the district’s gifted and talented students, and was in the Interact Club, which focuses on community service. He was also a superior delegate for the school’s Model United Nation’s Club. He was a well-rounded student who also did well on the cross country and winter track teams. “, the author continued…“But local residents know more about what kind of dad and husband he was than his bravery on the battlefield. When word got out that one of Monroe’s own died in Afghanistan, friends and acquaintances recalled that guy. The guy who married his childhood sweetheart, Traci. The guy who had two children he adored. The guy who took his family back home to Monroe for a visit whenever he could. ‘He was a dedicated Army officer,’ said one family friend of more than 20 years, ‘But more important, he was a wonderful father and husband. All we can do now is be grateful for his service to our country.’

Make Every Day Count

So why do I share this with you?  How does this tie into our Giants?

Well, it’s common knowledge that Coach Coughlin has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for our members of the military. He often will bring in speakers with military experience to speak to and help motivate the team.  And although my friend has moved on to a better place, Maj. Paul Voelke lived a life that will not only impact you and I as individuals but our boys in Blue as well.

Paul lived by the motto, “Make Every Day Count.”, and he led by example.  Always humble and willing to lend a helping hand to those in need, in this country and abroad.  Paul once wrote the following in a piece for Veterans day entitled “Why I Serve”

“There are two reasons. The first is that I love helping people, and the second is that the people I serve alongside — soldiers, Army civilians (and sailors, airmen and Marines, too) — are a truly amazing group. They represent the best in all of us. Dedicated to their nation and their comrades, they are selfless and loyal. And I consider myself fortunate to be among them.”, he continued, “The best part of my service has been, and continues to be, the people I get to interact with every day. A fellow soldier once said, “People join for the stuff they see on TV. They stay for the people…What makes them so special? They are people who live selfless service. They endure separation from their families, austere environments, and in some cases they pass up lucrative jobs to serve. They ask their families to sacrifice — spouses who have to put down roots every few years in a new place, make new friends, learn new school systems and often do it alone. The other thing that makes them special is their dedication and loyalty to each other. They are people who will never let you spend a holiday alone, who will fly back from Germany for your wedding, who will camp out in your hospital bedroom when you’re sick or injured, and who will make sure your wife and kids are OK when you’re gone. They are bosses who will sit down next to your desk, coat and briefcase in hand, to make sure that you can accomplish a difficult task on a short suspense. Because if you’re still working, they are, too. They are leaders who will never ask you to do something they can’t, won’t, or haven’t done, and will always make sure you have the tools you need to accomplish the mission. I continue to serve because I believe in what I do, and I am honored to work with my fellow soldiers.”

Make Every Day Count

As the Giants broke OTA’s and now take some time off to relax and enjoy their loved ones as we approach training camp, they were reminded by Coach Coughlin of the following…

“We always talk about being smart.  The ‘NY’ never comes off.  Be responsible.”

I’d like to add to the message Coach left with the team last week.

Take this time to reflect.  Reflect on the past and visualize the future, for it is what we make of it. Not a single one of us is guaranteed to see tomorrow. Not the scientist trying to cure cancer, or the CEO’s with their private planes.  Not the teenager bagging your groceries or the little girl in pigtails selling you lemonade at the end of her driveway.  Not the fans of a team, or the players who proudly wear the colors. Not a single one of us.

Make Every Day Count

The opportunity is there for all of you.  Do not take it for granted, for tomorrow is not promised.

The opportunity is there for Eli Manning, who may be the most scrutinized two time Super Bowl MVP the NFL have ever seen. Even Giants fans are ready to take shots at Eli when the opportunity presents itself, but Eli doesn’t waiver.  He shows up every day, he works to get better a decade into his career, he plays hurt, he takes the blame for receivers running the wrong route, he answers every dumb question the media throws at him and he does it with a class that few can match. Make Every Day Count Eli as you learn this new offense and teach it to those around you, Make Every Day Count as you get ready to lead us to this franchises 5th Lombardi trophy.

The opportunity is there for Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell. No one expects either of you both  to succeed this season, but the two of you have the chance to prove them all wrong. My generation had Bavaro, give the next generation a tackle breaking beast of a tight end to cheer for. Make Every Day Count.

Rashard Jennings, Andre Williams, David Wilson and Peyton Hillis, a broken running game must be fixed if this season is going to end off a lot later then last years did.  The chance is ahead for all of you to provide stability, a balance and explosiveness to this offense, Make Every Day Count.

Jerry Reese was quoted yesterday in an interview on WFAN as saying, “The guy who really has to come on and play better for us is Will Beatty.”

Maybe Will Beatty should take a look over to the right side of the Giants offensive line and take notes from a 2nd year tackle.  Justin Pugh Made Every Day Count last year.  He played hard, tough and as a rookie didn’t miss a single game, and at the end of the year he was named to the All-rookie team. Will Beatty, you can be as good as you want to be, you can be a franchise left tackle or you can be the weakest link, Make Every Day Count.

Geoff Schwartz, came to us this offseason to find a stable home here in Big Blue and we all have high hopes for what he can bring to this unit, but understand Geoff, we don’t care about the past, only the today and tomorrow. You can be an All-Pro guard here or a free agent bust.  Make Every Day Count.

J.D. Walton and Weston Richburg, the door is wide open for someone to come in and take the starting center job. We see the potential in you both and the onus falls on you to Make Every Day Count and kick the door off its hinges.

John Jerry, James Brewer, Charles Brown and Brandon Mosely, we need you.  Players are going to get hurt and depth along the offensive line is a luxury most teams can’t afford.  There are no guarantees that Beatty will be ready to go for opening night and who know what happens with Chris Snee.  Make Every Day Count and take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.

Chris Snee, I remember watching you play against my brother David when Abington Heights would visit your home town of Montrose for some good old fashion Northeastern Pennsylvania high school basketball.  You were a tough S.O.B. then, and God only knows what you have gone through to rehab the hip and get you ready to compete this season. Make Every Day Count Chris, even if the hip doesn’t hold up. Be the offensive lines Sam Madison, be their leader, their player coach. You have been through the battles and have hoisted two Lombardi trophies above your head, set the example of what it takes to play the offensive line for the New York Football Giants.

We don’t have a Megatron, Brandon Marshall or Josh Gordon, but what we do have is a match-up nightmare for opposing secondaries.

Reuben Randle, for all your talent, last year left us scratching our heads. We hope that the talent we see in you is only starting to scratch the surface. Learn the new offense in and out, no more running the wrong routes, no more miscommunication that leaves Eli holding the bag.  Make Every Day Count, it’s scary how good you can be so now there is one thing left to do…take it. As the Wu-tang Clan once sang…”It’s Yours!”

Odell Beckham Jr. can be a 1st round bust or bring an explosiveness to this offense that has yet to be seen. Expand on your rapport with Eli, learn all the WR’s routes, because moving you around on the offensive side of the ball can be a nightmare  for defensive coordinators. Make Every Day Count.

Victor Cruz, are you the salsa dancing wide receiver who only had success with Nicks being double teamed or are you the best slot receiver in the league?  Make Every Day Count.

Jason Pierre-Paul, this defense had LT, Strahan and Tuck, but now it is your turn to take the reigns as the head honcho. You may be the most physically gifted athlete to ever play defense for this franchise and you can be the monster we all got to witness who dominated in 2011. We miss the JPP of old and beg you to find him for us before we kick off in Detroit. Make Every Day Count.

Damontre Moore, Johnathan Hankins and Cooper Taylor, you will all get your chances this season to prove what you can do on the field. No more Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph or Will Hill in your way.  Carpe diem, ‘Seize the day.’  Play fast, play with reckless abandon, Make Every Day Count.

Prince Amukamara, DRC , Walter Thurmond, Charles James and Zac Bowman. This could quite possibly be the greatest collection of talent this franchise has ever seen at the cornerback position, but it don’t mean a thing if it don’t end with a ring. Make Every Day Count.

Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle.  Lead them, will them, motivate them.  Things will not always go right for this defense but the leadership you provide can overcome anything. I think you can fill in the blanks here. ‘__ __ __ __ ‘

Coach Coughlin, you went from being on the hot seat, to the Canyon of heroes, then back to the hot seat only to prove the critics wrong once again when you were ushered through the streets of Manhattan for your 2nd ride through the Canyon. Now you are under the microscope yet again however I have no doubt that if anyone Will Make Every Day Count it’s our fiery 67 year old head coach Tom Coughlin.

The Drive for Five starts in a month, and the motto Make Every Day Count, should serve as a message and a reminder that champions aren’t crowned in the off season, or the OTA’s, or the hot days of summer at training camp. Champions overcome, they endure, they listen, they learn and they teach. They strive to get better every day at their craft, no matter what that craft maybe.

The season is, as a wise man once put it, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” – Bill Parcells

Make Every Day Count Giants:

Maj. Paul Voelke, was a better man than I am, and yet here I am, still breathing and writing about football. I’m not defending a nation or protecting those abroad who need help. I’m not training tomorrow’s military heroes like Paul did, yet, I’m still playing with my daughter while Paul’s wife Traci, whom I’ve known since high school, and their sons, Ben and A.J., will live with this random and unexplainable event for the rest of their lives.

When things like this happen to a friend, or loved one, these random occurrences of life, it has a tendency to make you see things in a different light. It makes you question everything. Life, death, past decisions we’ve made and future ones we haven’t come to yet. You question your faith, religion and the presence of God.  It leaves you with a sense that we are all just a twist of fate away from the inevitable.

So no matter what you do in life, make it your passion. Hug your children, play with them, talk to them and tuck them in every night. Tell the woman you love how beautiful she looks every morning and thank the man you love for standing by your side. Call that friend you haven’t spoke to in a while and laugh about old times.

Or, if you’re a New York Football Giant, study the new offense, learn your assignments, watch more film and do an extra set of weightlifting in the gym. Push one another to get better, take pride in the NY on the helmet and appreciate that you are part of one of the most proud and storied franchises in all of sport.

Make Every Day Count. Give us more memories like 1986, 1990, 2007 and 2011 and we will make the stadium rock so loud that Paul, and all of our fallen heroes, will be able to hear us from way up above.











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1 comment

Colleen Mulvey Braumuller July 28, 2014 - 9:56 am

Very well written Mr Doino! Thanks for the morning tears. You are a hell of a writer my friend!


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